In 1996, composer Jonathan Larson told The New York Times he wrote the groundbreaking rock opera RENT “to bring musical theater to the MTV generation.” In less than two months, the Off Broad Street Players (OBSP) will bring that dream and that show to Millville, New Jersey, in the first production of the Broadway phenomenon at the historic Levoy Theatre.
OBSP began rehearsals this week for the group’s production of the Pulitzer Award- and five-time Tony Award-winning musical, which will open at the Levoy Theatre on Friday, April 17. The show features a cast of veteran performers from throughout the South Jersey area under the direction of long-time OBSP director John T. Stephan. Andrew Jarema is Mark, Phil Blandino is Roger, Domonic Barnes is Collins, Armando Mendez is Angel, Ant Viera is Benny, Karly Lynn Jeffers is Mimi, Jill Bradshaw is Maureen, and Katie Cox is Joanne.
The show’s ensemble features Arielle Egan, Erin Fisher, Noel Gomez, Lisa Heney, Shaun Laurencio, Cara May, P.J. Muniz, Justin Peterson, Jason D. Smith, and Raven Stewart.
Set in New York’s East Village in the early 1990s, RENT tells the heart-wrenching stories of members of a group of young artists coping with landlords, love, elusive muses, and the ever-present epidemic of AIDS. It is widely credited with fueling the careers of such stars as Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, and Jesse L. Martin. Loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème, the show contains autobiographical elements from the life of creator Larson, who tragically died suddenly just before the show’s critically acclaimed opening.
OBSP will present RENT Friday and Saturday, April 17 and 18, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 19, at 3 p.m.; Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, April 26, at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at www.levoy.net.
Theater/Organization Off Broad Street Players
Theater/Organization Website: http://www.obsp.org
Theater/Organization Address: Levoy Theatre 126-130 N. High Street Millville, New Jersey 08332 (Map It)